LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Former legislative leader Gretchen Whitmer won the Democrats’ nomination for Michigan governor on Tuesday, leading what could be an all-female Democratic statewide ticket into her fall showdown against Republican state Attorney General Bill Schuette, an ally of President Donald Trump.
Whitmer, the first woman to lead a Michigan state Senate caucus, beat former Detroit health director Dr. Abdul El-Sayed and chemical-testing entrepreneur Shri Thanedar, who had tried to outflank her from the left.
With Whitmer’s victory, Michigan’s Democrats are currently set to field an all-female ticket for statewide office, though Whitmer could still choose a male running mate. In addition to Whitmer and Debbie Stabenow, who is seeking a fourth Senate term, the Democrats are also fielding women for state attorney general and secretary of state.
Schuette received congratulatory calls from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence after he defeated Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, conservative state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines, an obstetrician-gynecologist.
Schuette, who had been accused by Calley of misusing his public office for political business, immediately sought to bring his party together and criticized Whitmer.
“Whatever differences we may have, it is my hope starting tonight that we can unite in our common goals — more jobs, greater growth and bigger paychecks for Michigan families,” Schuette told supporters in his hometown of Midland. He credited Republican leaders for helping the state “get off the mat” after a decade-long downturn and said Whitmer would “take us back to a time of shuttered industries, dashed dreams and higher taxes.”
Whitmer also appealed for unity, saying she was proud to have run against such a diverse field of candidates. She asked the supporters of El-Sayed — who was hoping to be the country’s first Muslim governor and was endorsed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — and Thanedar to join a “big tent” to fight for clean drinking water, better roads and better-funded schools. She called for voters this fall to “reject the politics of division and exclusion, the politics of just taking care of a few at the expense of us all.
“We need to throw Bill Schuette a big retirement party come November,” she told backers in…